Consumer Real Estate News

    • 5 Ways Pets Make Life Happier and Healthier

      22 February 2019

      (Family Features)--More than 84 million U.S. homes have a pet, according to the National Pet Owners Survey, and in many of those homes, pets are a big part of the family. However, there are several barriers that can prevent people from spending time with their furry friends, including outdated housing rules and limited green space in communities.

      Consider these benefits of pets, along with research from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, that shows a number of ways pets make people and communities happier and healthier, and visit to learn more and to find out how to help make your city more pet-friendly.

      Ease Kids' Minds. Pets are beneficial to people of all ages, but especially young children. Kids with pets tend to have less anxiety and loneliness, as well as greater self-esteem and social skills. Kids have also reported feeling more positive when completing a task if their dog is with them.

      Provide Stress Relief. As people get older, pets continue to be there for them. Even in the face of significant stressors—such as the loss of a loved one—pets are by their owners' sides to help them through times of grief.

      Offer Therapy in Times of Need. Disasters can take many forms, and people need ways to cope and make sense of it all. That's where the healing power of pets comes in. After tragedies, communities have brought in therapy pets to be a source of healing for people coping with hardships.

      Encourage Socialization for Pets and Owners. Pets help people connect. In fact, dog owners are five times more likely to know their neighbors than non-dog owners. While dogs socialize with people and other furry friends at the dog park, their owners have a chance to build relationships with other local dog owners. People also tend to feel safer in their neighborhood when walking their dog.

      Encourage Owners to Be Active. People who walk their dog tend to get more physical activity more days a week than those who don't. Pet ownership can even make a difference in the survival rate for heart attacks. In a Waltham study, 94 percent of heart patients with pets survived serious heart attacks for at least a year, compared to 72 percent without pets.

      Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Work-Life Balance: How to Go From Concept to Reality

      22 February 2019

      The term “work-life balance” is unfortunately melding into the modern-life lexicon of watered down catch phrases. But in today’s busier than ever culture, it’s important to pay more than lip service to work-life balance, bringing it from theory to action plan.

      To help you achieve this important state of physical and mental well-being, the experts at the Chopra Center say that it’s critical to begin by creating your own individual definition of work-life balance based on the particular priorities presented by your personal and professional life. For example, work-life balance may look completely different to a part-time working parent and a 20-something business executive.

      So begin by defining your personal and professional priorities, then try the following steps from the Chopra Center to make work-life balance a reality in your world:

      1. Know where your energy comes from. Part of what makes us feel we’re out of balance is sheer exhaustion, so it’s important to know how to refuel. Introverted personalities get their energy from doing something quiet, such as relaxing with a book or meditating, whereas extroverts might refuel by getting together with a group of friends for lunch. Know which you are, and make sure you take care of yourself accordingly.

      2. Be open and discuss work issues. Feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work will quickly destroy any hopes of work-life balance. That’s why it’s important to discuss your work struggles with trusted colleagues, friends, family members and mentors. It’s okay to admit your weaknesses as a professional, as everyone has them. Releasing the burden will often allow you to see solutions, or make you realize that it’s okay to ask others for help.

      3. Patience is essential. Part of what puts us on the treadmill is the pace of our own ambitions. While goals are excellent, necessary and motivational, they must be set out in a realistic timeframe, and we must learn to be okay with the fact that life will get in the way and wreak havoc on our plans from time to time. Learning to roll with these disruptions will work wonders when it comes to achieving work-life balance. In fact, they’ll provide invaluable life lessons and growth opportunities if we stop and pay attention.

      4. Put your brain on pause. Running from one task to the next puts our brains on overdrive, so it’s essential to put the brakes on in order to pause and give ourselves a “mental moment.” Collect your thoughts and process what is actually happening around you several times throughout the day, and your brain will relax and be more productive.
      5. Schedule your fun. The demands of work can be all-consuming, so plan your social activities and ink them on the calendar to make sure they don’t fall by the wayside. They can be as simple as a casual dinner with friends, a movie with your significant other, or ice cream with the kids. Make these activities sacrosanct to help get you back on the track to work-life balance.

      7. Use your time better. Part of being unable to achieve work-life balance is the constant feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done. So take a good look at your day and see how you can use the time that you do have in a better way. For example, use a long commute time to answer emails if you’re on a train, or enjoy a podcast or audiobook when behind the wheel. Or instead of eating lunch at your desk, take a walk with a colleague and get some exercise while brainstorming a new project.  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Keep Your Shower Clean

      22 February 2019

      It's impossible to feel clean if you're showering in a dirty shower. But considering how damp our showers can be on the regular, it's hard to keep them clean, especially if you have several people using the same shower daily. Below are some helpful suggestions.

      Spray with vinegar daily. Keep a spray bottle of water and vinegar in your shower. After your daily rinse, spritz the mixture over the surfaces of your shower to nix bacteria.

      Snag a squeegee. A rubber squeegee—not unlike the ones you use to clean your car windshield—can help keep excess moisture from creating mold on your walls or shower door. Simply hang one on a suction hook and squeegee down the surfaces of your shower when you’re done.

      Shake your curtain. After your shower, shake your curtain to get rid of excess moisture that can lead to mold.
      Wash your curtain. Black mold clinging to your shower curtain is unsightly, and grimy. Every other week, throw your shower curtain in the wash with your towels, then hang it up to dry.

      Utilize your fan. If you have a built-in fan in your bathroom, use it! It's a top trick for minimizing mold. Turn it on while you shower, and leave it on for 15 minutes post-shower to get rid of moisture.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Do Away With Dust in Your Home

      21 February 2019

      If you find yourself at home with itchy, watery eyes and a sneezy, stuffy, runny nose, you could be allergic to dust, or more accurately, dust mites—microscopic organisms that feed off the dust around your house.

      Dust mite allergies are actually one of the most common indoor allergens. Luckily, there are important steps you can take to keep them at bay. Try these suggestions from the editors at Self magazine:

      Clean once a week. While cleaning once a week is a good starting point, twice a week would be even better. If making time to clean is a challenge, the task will become less arduous once you come up with a consistent routine and stick with it.

      Use a damp dust cloth. Instead of dusting with a dry cloth, dampen it first. This will allow you to actually pick up dust as opposed to just moving it around. A good dusting spray will also do the trick.

      Vacuum the right way. This can be achieved by using a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, which is particularly good at capturing dust mites. It’s also important to change the filter regularly. To determine the frequency that’s recommended for your machine, follow your vacuum’s instructions.  

      Wear a mask and gloves. In addition to wearing a mask and gloves while cleaning, be sure to cover yourself with long sleeves and pants. A face mask creates a physical barrier between your mouth, nose and the contaminants that trigger your allergies. Protective clothing and gloves will help prevent allergens from irritating your skin.

      Leave your house for a few hours. Cleaning tends to kick up dust mites and allergens, so once you’ve done a deep clean, get out of the house and allow them to settle. Try to leave a window or two open, weather permitting.

      Declutter your home as much as possible. Take the time to eliminate clutter so that dust has fewer places to settle and hide away.

      Wash your bedding weekly in hot water. Believe it or not, bedding is a prime area for dust mites, so keep this task at the top of your priority list. It’s also a good idea to vacuum your mattress, as well.

      Change your AC and heating filters. Air conditioning and heating vents regularly filter air throughout your home and capture dust and dust mites in the process, so be sure to change these every three months. A good way to remember this important task is to change them with the seasons.

      If your allergies are too severe to tackle these tasks on your own, hire someone to do this type of cleaning. Your health and well-being are worth the investment.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Tips for Making HSA Contributions

      21 February 2019

      Most of us like saving money, and when it comes to health savings, a Health Savings Account (HSA) has many financial benefits. HSA contributions are tax-deductible, the money in those accounts grows at a tax-free rate, and qualified purchases made with these funds are tax-free. Additionally, the money stays in your account and rolls over from year to year, with no penalties for not using funds. Over time, these small advantages can add up and make a big impact on your savings goals.

      According to HSA administrators Clarity Benefit Solutions, HSAs can be even more beneficial when employees make the most of every dollar they contribute. Here are tips for maximizing the impact of your HSA dollars.

      Contribute the maximum allowed, if you’re able to. If your primary goal for your HSA is for savings, or because you anticipate a lot of out-of-pocket medical expenses in the future, then it is smart to contribute the maximum amount allowed each year. For individuals, the maximum contribution is $3,500, and for families, it is $7,000. If you are over 55 years old, you can make an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000 per year to increase your balance further. This allows you to maximize the amount of your money that is growing tax-free. If the maximum contribution is not reasonable for you, start with a lower amount and slowly increase as your income allows.

      Focus on eligible expenses. Traditionally, people use HSA money for things like deductibles, copayments, prescriptions, vision and dental expenses. However, there are other eligible items that you can purchase tax-free using HSA dollars that you might already be purchasing and paying taxes on. Some of these items include asthma equipment, crutches, first aid kits, shoe insoles, thermometers and vitamins.

      Invest for the future. You can invest a portion of your HSA funds in mutual funds to accumulate tax-free growth. If you have a higher income, it might be a good idea to use non-HSA money to pay for manageable healthcare expenses so that you can invest more of your HSA in a safe, tax-free environment.

      Source: Clarity Benefit Solutions

      Published with permission from RISMedia.